I Believe in Thrift

Michelle - Stillwater, Oklahoma
Entered on March 6, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in thrift. I think this comes from the countless childhood hours spent at my great-grandmother’s side. She was a woman who had weathered the Dust Bowl and Depression with true thrift and resourcefulness, and decades later, those values were still ingrained in her life. She saved everything. Her refrigerator was filled with small covered bowls, with leftover scraps of food that would go to use in other dishes. She washed and reused Ziploc bags. I was constantly admonished not to “let things go to waste.”

I know she would be appalled at some of my habits over the years. From time to time, I have succumbed to using “conveniences” that would shock her, like pre-treated, disposable dust cloths. I’ve been known to discover a container of food after weeks in the back of the refrigerator and throw the entire thing out, container and all, because I didn’t want to open it and deal with whatever had grown inside.

Still, I know I have carried the values of thrift and resourcefulness with me. Because of these qualities, today our family can afford for me to stay at home with our young son. I do almost all of our cooking from scratch, planning our meals out carefully to avoid any waste. We use cloth napkins instead of paper and cloth diapers instead of Huggies or Pampers. We do most of our cleaning with vinegar and baking soda instead of expensive chemical products. And, yes, I’ve even started reusing Ziploc bags.

I joke that I am “cheap,” but that isn’t entirely accurate. I’m not stingy. Even though I monitor my monthly budget closely, I love to entertain and will share the best I have with my guests. To me, being thrifty is partly about saving money, but it’s really about being responsible with my resources, managing waste. If I were running a company, my thrift would be called “efficiency.”

In the past few years, this lifestyle has become popular in many parts of the country, only most describe it with words like “green” or “sustainable.” In my small hometown, however, words like those are looked at with suspicion. So, for now, I continue to believe in good old-fashioned thrift.